Elmer Gantry is a charming, fast-talking con, working the road as a traveling salesman in the 1920s. Burt Lancaster stars as the elusive Gantry in this charismatic adaptation of Sinclair Lewis's 1927 novel. When Gantry runs across a group of traveling evangelists, he charms their saintly leader, Sister Susan Falconer (Jean Simmons), and becomes her partner, preaching fire and brimstone in the packed revival tents of the hardened Midwest. Gantry's robust style and Falconer's Joan of Arc-like spirit skyrocket the two minstrels to fame and fortune as they travel with their flock waging war on sinners and speakeasies--until they preach in a big city and catch the eye of a tough prostitute (Shirley Jones) who knows that Elmer is not quite as holy as he appears. This biting portrait of the business of religion was highly innovative at the time of its release, casting a slightly tarnished light on the hustle and theatrics of traveling ministries, while analyzing the true nature of faith and redemption. Lancaster's performance as the salesman turned preacher is dynamic and highly charismatic, full of energy and robust flair.
1960 - Academy Awards - Best Adapted Screenplay Winner
1960 - Academy Awards - Best Supporting Actress Winner
1960 - Academy Awards - Best Actor Winner
Arthur Kennedy - American Actor
Dean Jagger - American TV/Film Actor
Edward Carrere - Art Director
Sinclair Lewis - American Novelist
Richard Brooks - Oscar-winning American director/screenwriter, CAT ON A HOT T
John Alton - Cinematographer
Patti Page - American Singer
Clara Ann Fowler - American Singer
Edward Andrews - American Actor
Jean Simmons - British actress, SPARTACUS (1960)
Burt Lancaster - Oscar-winning actor, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, ELMER GANTRY
Burton Stephen Lancaster - Oscar-winning actor, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, ELMER GANTRY
Marjorie Fowler - American Editor
Bernard Smith - American Producer
John McIntire - American Character Actor
André Previn - Conductor/Composer
Shirley Jones - Oscar winning actress, THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY
Burt Lancaster stars as Elmer Gantry, a streetwise, fast-talking traveling salesman working the road in the 1920s in this adaptation of Sinclair Lewis's 1927 novel. Always on the lookout for the next moneymaking scheme, Elmer attracts the attention of a group of traveling evangelists, charming their leader, the saintly Sister Susan Falconer. Elmer becomes her smooth-talking preaching sidekick, plagiarizing speeches to promote himself above all else as he successfully exploits the folks of America's Corn Belt. The film features charismatic performances by Lancaster in the title role and Shirley Jones as a tough prostitute.
Patti Page, a popular 1950s religious and pop singer, stars as Sister Rachel, singing "I'm on My Way" with Burt Lancaster.
"...It's still unholy fun, perfectly complemented by Andre Previn's devilish, horn-and-hymn-mixing score..." - 10/01/2000 Total Film, p.114